Site of Indian Attack

Despite their occupation of this land for thousands of years, this campaign scattered the Haudenosaunee and crippled the Confederacy but it did open up the west to European settler occupation including George Washington, who acquired land in Western New York.

Current Sign Text

Site of
Indian Attack on Col. Van Schaick's Expedition against
the Onondagas April 21, 1779

Problematic issues

Would you understand this marker to mean that Van Schaick's “Expedition” was innocently attacked?

Col. Van Schaick's troops were sent ahead of the Sullivan & Clinton Expedition to destroy the Onondaga Nation. The Onondaga were(as they are today) the center of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Keepers of the Grand Council Fire. The Onondaga Nation and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy had decided to remain neutral in the conflict between the Colonies and England. The decision of their council leaders, however, did not prevent individuals from becoming involved in the conflict.

George Washington and the Continental Congress chose to send a force against the Confederacy anyway. There is debate and different perspectives on whether this was retaliation for previous events, such as a “raid” or “battle” at Cherry Valley.

VanSchaick's attacks on Indian Villages, mentioned on the marker, are often referred to as a “scorched Earth” campaign. The Onondaga were killed, raped, and driven from their homes. Their food stores, usually a 3 year supply, were destroyed and they were forced to escape for their lives to Fort Niagara near Buffalo. The harsh winter of 1779 caused the death of most of the refugees. This time is remembered with great sadness and pain to the Onondaga resulting in lasting generational trauma. It is certainly probable that the Onondaga tried to defend themselves or protect themselves. What would you have done?


Located at Lower Onondaga Park.


Indigenous Place Names for Site


Circumstances of Marker Placement

Erected by the Syracuse Chapter S.A.R. and the State of New York in 1930

Additional Information

These events opened western NY to land speculators thus settlement for colonists. George Washington acquired land in Western NY. For additional references to these events and the Sesquicentennial celebrations of this period see markers "Col Van Schaick" & "Sullivan and Clinton" on this site.


Review Details

Researched by Sue Eiholzer, 2012